Ancient World Seminar 2008

Via Appia Antica
Via Appia Antica - Quo Vadis?
(Photograph: Andrew Stephenson)

Papers for 2008

11 March
Dr Armin Schmidt
, University of Bradford
Of English Gardens and Iranian Tells: Archaeological Geophysics in Action

Dr Schmidt is senior lecturer in archaeological geophysics at the University of Bradford (UK). He has published extensively on archaeological sites in the UK, Sri Lanka and Iran. His book Geophysical Data in Archaeology: A Guide to Good Practise appeared with Oxbow Books in 2002.

18 March - Theatre A, Old Arts
Dr Jennifer Webb
, La Trobe University
Keeping House: Our Developing Understanding of Early and Middle Bronze Age Households in Cyprus

Dr Webb is a Senior Research Associate in the Archaeology programme at La Trobe University. She has co-directed a number of major excavations and surveys in Cyprus for the Australia Cyprus Expedition. Her research interests centre on the archaeology and material culture of Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Cyprus and she has published extensively in this field.

1 April
David Collard
, University of Nottingham
Opium for the Masses: Psychoactive consumption in the Bronze Age East Mediterranean

8 April
Stephen Bourke
, University of Sydney
The Pella Bronze Age Temple Precinct: A conspectus of recent work (1997-2007)

Over the last ten years excavations at Pella have centred on the investigation of a massive Bronze Age temple and associated outbuildings. The massive MB/LB period Migdol temple, at 32 x 24 metres the largest of its type ever discovered, has been intensively explored over the last seven field seasons. During this time, six distinct phases of temple architecture have been uncovered, dating between 1900-800 BC. Three temples suffered fiery destruction, sealing rich cultic assemblages in situ under debris. Finds have been spectacular, including Egyptian statuary, gold, lapis, stone and glass jewellery, many cylinder seals and scarabs, along with a range of foundation and votive offerings, along with numbers of uniquely decorated cult stands and other offering paraphernalia. The lecture will outline main discoveries and discuss some of the material, before considering the Pella material in its Canaanite cultic context.

15 April
Eric Dugdale
, Gustavus Adolphus College
‘Who Named Me?’: Identity and status in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus

22 April
Peter Acton
, University of Melbourne
Industry in Classical Athens: A microeconomic approach

This presentation will review ancient sources and modern historiography on the subject of manufacturing industry in Athens in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE and challenge contemporary orthodoxy by attempting to show that modern business concepts can make an important contribution to understanding how Athenian society operated.

29 April
Giulia Torello
, Monash University
Liposkenia: Staging Comic Evasions

Despite the martial orientation of Athenian society, draft-dodging (astrateia)and desertion (lipostration) represented a tempting alternative to the risks involved in a military campaign and Athenians had various opportunities to avoid serving in the army. This paper is concerned primarily with how Old comedy dramatises the failure to comply with one’s military obligations. In order to shed some light on the techniques put in place by Old comedians, my analysis focuses initially on tragic episodes of draft-dodging and, in particular, on the myth of Achilles at Skyros. In the second part of this paper I trace some common patterns in the comic re-enactments of scenes of lipostration (desertion)or, as I renamed it, liposkenia (desertion from the comic stage).

6 May
David Runia
, University of Melbourne
The Timaeus: Plato's prose hymn to the cosmos

After introducing the Australian Timaeus Commentary project, the talk will turn to the dialogue itself, discussing the main interpretative controversies and recent scholarly studies that shed light on them.

13 May
Ron Ridley
, University of Melbourne
The Case of the Missing Sense of Humour: The Historian Livy

20 May
Heather Sebo
, University of Melbourne
Fire Next Time: The plan of Zeus in Euripides’ Helen

Contrary to the common view of Euripides' Helen as untragic, even whimsical, this paper seeks to demonstrate that the action is set against a grim subtext of mythic motifs and/or narrative themes associated with universal catastrophe, including the motif of the overburdened, overpopulated earth, eris among the gods, the loss of the Golden Age and the figure of the baneful female. The paper argues that Euripides construes the Trojan War and the narrative of the Mother’s famine in the second stasimon as twin aspects of Zeus’ plan to reduce human numbers through widespread death and calamity and that each is instrumental in inflicting a 'dread aspect' of the human condition.

27 May
Louise Hitchcock
, University of Melbourne
The Big Nowhere: A mistress of animals in the Throne Room in Knossos?

12 August
James O'Maley
, University of Melbourne
Much Better Than Our Fathers: Diomedes and Tydeus in the Iliad

20 August (Wednesday; Turner Theatre, Botany Building)
François Lissarrague
, AAIA Visiting Lecturer
Figuring the Gods in Ancient Greece: The Relations of Anthropomorphism and ‘Aniconism’

26 August
Andrea Argirides
, University of Melbourne
The Bullet and the Brush: Fighting to Preserve the Archaeological Sites in Ancient Mesopotamia

Andrea Argirides is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, researching island archaeology in the Mediterranean, with a particular focus on Cyprus. She also is a service member of the Royal Australian Navy and was recently posted in Baghdad, Iraq, from where she had the rare opportunity to visit some of Iraq's ancient sites, especially Ur.

2 September
Christopher Dart
, University of Melbourne
The Survival of the Gracchan Land Commission and the Dandis power of the Triumvirs

9 September
Antonio Sagona
, University of Melbourne
South of Ossetia: Archaeology in the borderlands of Caucasus

23 September
Estelle Strazdins
, Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Shades of Eternity: The quest for fame in the Second Sophistic

2 October- Thursday 12-1, Old Arts, Theatre B
Michael Fulford
, University of Reading
The Silchester Town Life Project: Profiling an Iron Age and Roman town

7 October
Sarah Gador-White
, University of Melbourne
Greco-Syriac Poetic Interaction: Romanos' rhetoric and preaching

9 October
Michael Gibbons - Thursday 1-2, Old Arts, Theatre A

Upland Archaeology in Ireland

Over the last two decades a combination of survey work, aerial photography and excavations have immeasurably enriched our knowledge of the upland archaeology of Ireland. Features ranging from Neolithic hilltop villages and tombs, through Bronze Age ceremonial complexes and fortresses and field systems of varying dates have been identified and mapped across the peaks and passes of the Irish landscape. Much of this work has focused on the archaeology of Ireland's "sacred" or pilgrimage mountains and the enigmatic religious and folkloric traditions and archaeological remains which surround them. The practice of mountain pilgrimage and its possibly prehistoric origins have played a major role in recent debates, many of which have focused on the still vibrant tradition of the Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage. Archaeologist Michael Gibbons has decades of experience in the field of archaeological survey and pilgrimage mountains and will be presenting an overview of some of the recent work on upland archaeology in Ireland.

This event has been made possible by the assistance of Culture Ireland, the Irish State Agency that promotes the best of Ireland’s arts and culture internationally and assists in the development of Ireland’s international cultural relations.

14 October
Michelle Negus Cleary
, University of Sydney
City of the Chorasmii? Recent investigations into the art and architecture of the late Iron Age site of Kazakly-yatkan, Uzbekistan

21 October
Frank Sear
, University of Melbourne
Discrimina ordinum: Roman theatres examined by the Australian survey team

4 November, Tuesday 12-1, Old Arts, Theatre B
Andrew Turner
, University of Melbourne
Literary After-Life: Stages in the reception of the Terence text

11 November,Tuesday 12-1, Old Arts, Theatre B
Sergei Vnukov
, Russian State University
The Discoveries of Russian Expeditions in the North-Western Crimea

Professor Sergei Vnukov is in Australia under the Australian Academy of the Humanities' Visiting Scholars Programme. He is Director of the Centre for Classical and near Eastern Studies, Russian State University of the Humanities, Moscow. He is also a Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Classical Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. He is a specialist in amphora-production and trade in the Black Sea and has published extensively, including two recent books. For many years, he has led excavations of Greco-Scythian sites in the north-western Crimea.

Several Russian archaeological expeditions have been active in the north-west of the Crimea since the 1960s. The region was a contact zone between Greek colonists and the local Scythians. Such important Greek and Late Scythian city-sites as Chaika, Belyaus, Kara-Tobe (4th century BC-1st century AD) and others were investigated in recent years. These studies provide us with important data on the political, economic and ethnic history of the region and on cultural interaction between the different peoples of the area, and have enabled new approaches to some of the problems of the historical development of the north-western Crimea to be elaborated. Unique objects have also been found here.

9 December,Tuesday 12-1, Old Arts, Theatre B
Alexandra Chaviarria
, University of Padua
Villas and Christianity in Late Antiquity: New observations on an old problem

Dr Chavarria is an archaeologist of Late Antiquity who has directed projects at S. Pietro di Limone (Brescia), Maguzzano (Brescia) and Santa Maria di Lugo (Venice) and coordinated the international excavations at Kastellina (Rab, Croatia). Her research interests are late antique and medieval architecture, particularly the transformations of rural villas from the 4th to 7th centuries, and ecclesiastical buildings (she is currently working on a book about the archaeology of churches). She is also working on a project on the residential architecture of medieval Padua. She is the author of 48 publications, including 3 monographs and 4 edited books.